BEST GASTOWN RESTAURANTS | Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhood is a coveted foodie destination
If you’re the kind of person who loves to eat and drink your way through a neighbourhood, tasting your way through Gastown’s best restaurants might be your new favourite activity in Vancouver. As Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhood, Gastown is rich with history; however, it also has more restaurants, cocktail bars, and coffee shops per square foot than any other district.
After years of hosting our flagship Foodie Tour in Gastown, we’ve come to know Gastown’s cobblestone maze of hidden gems inside-and-out. There’s a ton of choice, a lot of talented chefs and baristas, and often, so little time. Whether you have the chance to join us on the Gastronomic Gastown Tour or not, here are 5 Gastown food experiences you can’t miss:
1. Go for Brunch
Vancouver loves to brunch and some of the best brunch hangouts are in Gastown. Our advice? Show up early and have a few back-up ideas on speed dial in case the line ups are long.
2. Drink some Drinks
If you hear the history from our Gastronomic Gastown Tour, you’ll know that Gastown formed from the love of booze. Today, there are amazing cocktail bars, craft beer joints, and whiskey parlours. Gastown is a favourite for local nightlife, especially on summer nights.
3. Check out the Live Music
We love a good tune to compliment a good drink! Guilt & Co, Pourhouse, and Revel Room have weekly performers, but there are often special music nights throughout the area.
4. Go Food-Hopping
If you’re not hitting 3-4 Gastown restaurants in one night, you’re not doing it right. You won’t be alone if you start in the afternoon, hit a few happy hours, and keep the good times rollin’ at night!
5. Drink some Hipster Coffee
A quick look at our Gastown Greatest Hits List (see below!) and you’ll see that coffee is a big deal in this district. Coffee shops and pastry stops mark every street corner!
So loosen your belts and get ready to #EATtheMAP – this is our ultimate food and drink list for taking Gastown like a local.
Gastown’s Greatest Hits List
VANCOUVER FOODIE TOURS
If you’re ready to kick back and get eating, join us on the Gastronomic Gastown Tour. We put over 300 hours into designing our flagship Foodie Tour and it’s Gastown’s one-and-only Canadian Signature Experience. In addition to eating and drinking at four very-Gastown restaurants, you’ll also explore historic buildings and learn about the complex evolution of the area. This is Vancouver’s #1 Rated Tour on TripAdvisor and one of Forbes’ Top 9 Food Tours in the World!
Tours run 7 days a week at 3:00 pm: Check out the Gastronomic Gastown Tour here.
Tuc Craft Kitchen
CANADIAN | If there’s a go-to restaurant for a date night or group dinner, Tuc tops the list. You’ll want to bring friends who are willing to share their food because you’ll want a taste of every plate that leaves the kitchen. Tuc’s rustic and reclaimed decor, paired with their seasonal ingredients and local wines are the perfect mix between gourmet and homestyle. The Pork Belly Crackling is something you’ll be talking about for days. (In fact, there’s a 2019 episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, where a group of VFT Foodies are raving about Tuc’s addicting Pork Belly!) And the soft-boiled, Tempura Bacon-Wrapped Egg is nothing short of sorcery. They’ve sold over 60,000 eggs to date!
Experience Tuc Craft Kitchen on the Gastronomic Gastown Tour!
60 Cordova St
FARM-TO-TABLE | A locally sourced farm-to-table restaurant, with a tip to tail mandate, Wildebeest is a favourite among the locals. As soon as you enter, you’ll see a design that declares brilliance: reclaimed wood, early 1900s brick, and a light fixture made from reclaimed curtain pulleys. They have a 100% in-house charcuterie program and offer omakase (meaning chef’s discretion) for those wanting to sit back and be “wowed”.
Pro-tip: Get the bone marrow and then request the “luge”. It’s a shot of sherry poured through the bone! Not only does it taste amazing, but you’ll also feel like a Viking.
Experience Wildebeest on the Gastronomic Gastown Tour!
120 W Hastings St
BAKERY | If you are on the hunt for baked goods, Purebread needs to be on your radar. With ridiculously delicious bread and desserts, this Whistler-born bakery has truly mastered both the sweet and the savoury. Just passing Purebread and smelling the freshly baked pastries wafting through the air is enough to be hooked. Once inside, you’ll notice their long counter piled high with brownies, cookies, scones, and nearly every delicious treat imaginable.
Read our feature on Purebread Gastown here!
Pro tip: Their meringues are to die for and each one is the size of your head! Well worth it.
159 W Hastings St
MEXICAN | When you think of tacos in Vancouver, you think of Tacofino. What started as a food truck in Tofino is now a mainstay for many Vancouverites. One bite of their fish taco and you’ll understand why. It’s quite possibly the best in the city. Wash it down with a housemade churro and you’ve just started a proper night in Gastown. Or make Tacofino your main event. The geometric patterns give it a warm, casual vibe and the twinkle lights on the patio add that extra magic.
Pro Tip: Enter from Blood Alley (back side) to access the patio and restaurant, or on Cordova Street to take-out from their Burrito Bar!
15 W Cordova St
Nicli Antica Pizzeria
NEOPOLITAN PIZZA | Nicli Antica, synonymous with the best pizza in Vancouver, is Vancouver’s first VPN Certified (Classic Neopolitan-style) Pizzeria. Made with the best-in-class ingredients, the classic Margarita and Cavolo Nero e Funghi (mushroom) are to-die-for! And if pizza isn’t enough, Nicli offers bright and inviting seating with a wood-burning oven taking centre stage.
Experience Nicli Antica Pizzeria on the Gastronomic Gastown Tour!
Pro tip: Nicli’s house lager is made exclusively for them from Vancouver Island Brewery. Think of a malty Peroni!
62 E Cordova St
COMFORT FOOD | Set up in the Alhambra (Gastown’s oldest building), over-looking the Gassy Jack statue, this local favourite is a go-to spot for comfort food favourites, craft beer and booze. Their corn fritter hushpuppies are tossed in an addictive honey sauce and their oatmeal stout-gravy poutine and will make you weak in the knees!
Pro tip: Their loft seating on the second floor gives you a birds-eye view of the restaurant and the outside hustle and bustle.
203 Carrall St
Meat and Bread
SANDWICHES | As the name suggests, what they do is sandwiches and what they do, they do better than anyone else in the city. Their flagship sandwich, the Porchetta, a crispy, juicy slow roasted Italian pulled pork, is to-die-for. As soon as you walk in, you’ll see heat lamps illuminating the porchetta serving station – like a gift from heaven!
Pro tip: Each morning they make their ingredients fresh for the day. When they are out, that’s it. The best time to come in is for an early lunch or join us on the Gastronomic Gastown Tour.
Read our feature on Meat and Bread Gastown here!
370 Water St
MEXICAN | Want to escape to a tropical destination? Then La Mezcaleria is where you want to go. With jaw-dropping tacos and dishes originating from all over Central and South America, one bite will transport you to a white sandy beach. Come in for an authentic dinner, or stop by on the weekend for their Mexican style brunch.
Pro tip: La Mezcaleria boasts one of the largest mezcal and tequila menus in Vancouver. They offer flights to give you a full taste of Mexico.
Experience La Mezcaleria on the Gastronomic Gastown Tour!
68 E Cordova St
COCKTAIL TAVERN | An old-fashioned tavern in a historic century-old Gastown warehouse, Pourhouse features a 38-foot bar made from 120-year-old reclaimed wood. With a true happy hour from 5-6 and cocktails that will turn your palette upside down, Pourhouse is an experience. Their burger is amazing – a hand-packed patty, cooked till the juices run, served with aged cheddar and pork belly. Plus, for only 2 dollars more you can add a fried egg on it!
Pro tip: When you go to the bar, ask the bartender for their advice. Pourhouse bartenders love their craft and will work with you in finding a cocktail that’s the perfect fit.
162 Water Street
COFFEE | Revolver is the coffee enthusiasts dream. Their ethical, fair-trade coffee is nestled in cosy cabin vibes and their fresh baked goods add the final piece. Every cup is made-to-order and they even do coffee flights. Instead of a bunch of different roasts, each flight is one roast done in different ways. Try them, notice the differences, and just like that, you’re a connoisseur!
Photo: Post Projects
325 Cambie St
Guilt & Company
NIGHTLIFE | If you love music, this is the place to go. Located underneath Local Public Eatery, Guilt & Co. puts on live music every night of the week. The dark and intimate setting will have you feeling like you are at the forefront of Vancouver’s music scene. Offering up a wide array of genres, Guilt & Co. will give you the chance to, not only find the music you like but also the music you didn’t know you’d love! So order a cheese platter and a whiskey flight and enjoy the show.
Pro tip: The dessert here is something to check out. Their guilt-free key lime pie is possibly the best vegan dessert in the city, and their homemade fruit leather is like a fruit roll-up for adults!
1 Alexander St
LEBANESE | Right on the edge of Western Gastown, Nuba creates a warm and bright atmosphere that is great for catching up with close friends. One bite of their Garden Falafel or Lamb Kafta and you’ll understand why they are voted best Lebanese in Vancouver. The Najib’s Special (deep fried cauliflower) is another fan favourite and comes with homemade hummus and tabbouleh. Nuba goes the extra mile in authenticity with virtually everything made in house, even their pickles!
Photo: Kris Krug
207 W Hastings St
Milano Espresso Lounge
COFFEE | Located down the street from the Gassy Jack Statue, Milano makes heartwarming coffee and espresso that’s a great pick-me-up for any time of day. But what really makes Milano stand out is their coffee blends. By using up to 13 different beans in their blend, Milano is on a quest to find the perfect equation of body, aroma, and flavour. With in-house roasted beans, Milano brings you coffee at it’s most authentic. Stop in for a signature cup of brew made with either a french press or pour over, or stay in and try up to 8 different espresso blends.
Pro tip: Milano is fully licenced and offers “spiked” coffee with drinks featuring baileys and/or brandy. Nothing like an extra boost after a hard day of work.
36 Powell St
TAPAS | They weren’t being creative on the name; this place is a tight fit. With only 19-seats in the restaurant, Sardine Can feels more like eating in a good friends kitchen than dining out. The homestyle feel and selection of Sherry will make you feel like you stepped into street-side bar Barcelona. Being a small space also means that all their ingredients are made and served fresh. The Gambas Al Ajillo (Spicy Garlic Prawns) are made with a chilli oil that does not disappoint.
Pro tip: if there is space, grab a stool at the bar and chat with their bartender, Ben. Not only does he have an amazing beard, but his knowledge of fortified wine is unparalleled.
Experience Sardine Can on the Gastronomic Gastown Tour!
26 Powell St
CANADIAN BISTRO | The biggest problem with brunch is that most places only do it on the weekend. Well, not at Catch 122! They offer brunch every day of the week!. They make everything in-house using locally sourced ingredients. Catch 122 took this concept to the next level, taking the 100-year-old building and doing all their own design and carpentry. The result is a rustic and inviting brunch spot that will make you feel like you got to know your friends just a little bit better. The Cauliflower Benny is a fan favourite made with a cauliflower and cheese croquette (think veggie patty) wild mushrooms, and a smoked tomato jam. Or if you have a sweet tooth, go with Rye Hotcakes served with dulce de leche.
Pro tip: Brunch is served 9-3 weekdays and 8-3 on the weekend. Go for a late brunch to avoid the rush.
122 W Hastings St
FRENCH | The name sounds so pretty in French. In English, it means slaughterhouse. Nestled in one of Gastown’s oldest building and once a butchery in the 19th century, L’Abbatoir is one of the top restaurants in Canada (number 22 to be exact). Upscale and inviting, the geometric tiles, original brick walls, and gorgeous long table make this a prime for large groups. Whether you order the Terrine of Duck Foie Gras or the Smoked Arctic Char, their West Coast French-inspired cuisine turns any occasion into a foodie memory.
Pro tip: Want an extra special night out? L’Abbatoir offers monthly dinner series. It’s 8 guests, 10 courses and a guest chef! But act quickly, the tickets often sell out in minutes.
217 Carrall St
MODERN TAVERN | Back in the day, the word Tavern was used to describe a place where people in the community and traveller alike could get together and bond over food and drink. This is exactly the mantra of the Alibi Room. Here you will most likely find yourself meeting new friends or catching up with old ones. No matter your beverage of choice, Alibi room has you covered: a beer list of over 50 domestic and imported brews, BC wines, and craft cocktails. Add in their juicy burgers or ultra-crispy chicken wings and you have got yourself the start to a great night.
Pro tip: Alibi Room offers some unusual beer choices. Make sure you try Midnight Train Imperial Milk Stout with Coconut or the Chaka Khan Lychee Sour with Lactose.
157 Alexander St
ICE CREAM | No neighbourhood would be complete without a go-to ice cream shop. Soft Peaks is the go-to for the Gastown area. Their Organic Soft Serve Ice Cream is creamy, all-natural goodness that takes traditional ice cream to the next level. If you decide to grab it to-go or enjoy in their bright upper loft, Soft Peaks gives you creative toppings that you can’t find in other ice cream shops: local honeycomb, yuzu marmalade and cornflakes, to name a few.
Photo: Rob Newell
Pro tip: For those cold, rain-filled days, Soft Peaks has one of the best hot chocolates in the city, complete with roasted marshmallows.
25 Alexander St
The Flying Pig
CANADIAN BISTRO | Situated on Vancouver’s iconic Water Street, Flying Pig offers classic Canadian dishes in a friendly, relaxed, and inviting setting. Take a seat next to the wide upper windows and watch the hustle and bustle while enjoying a classic steak, grilled to perfection. Each one of their mouth-watering cuts has been aged a minimum of 21 days and are served with bone marrow and a delicious brandy peppercorn sauce.
Pro tip: Try another classic Canadian dish – poutine! Flying Pig gives you the gourmet version by using local potatoes, fresh cheese curds, in-house made gravy and pulled pork.
102 Water St
GERMAN | From your first foot in the door, you’ll know that you’re in for a culinary experience. Each aspect of their design is meticulously crafted: the exposed steel frames, the open kitchen concept, and the graffiti art all speak the intentionality and risks. The 4 or 6-course chef’s tasting menu will give you elevated German fusion that you cannot find anywhere else in the city. Their dessert is another example of such feats. Who would have thought parsnip belongs with sorbet?! Well, it does.
Photo: Scout Magazine
Pro tip: Their design masterpiece is the bathroom. Check out their graffiti laced walls in one of the coolest bathrooms in town.
1 W Cordova St
Rodney’s Oyster House
SEAFOOD | Everyone has a favourite seafood spot, right? For many locals in Gastown, Rodney’s is theirs. While the exposed, natural brick and small storefront make Rodney’s feel like an oceanside eatery, the dishes are what truly shines. The Potato Encrusted Halibut with a housemade tartar sauce is a local favourite and the Bourbon Glazed Salmon is sweet flakey goodness.
Pro tip: This is a great happy hour spot! Their low tide menu from 3-6 pm even offers $1.50 fresh oysters.
52 Powell St
COCKTAILS | There are so many aspects that make The Diamond a great place for a cocktail. They are on the second floor overlooking Gassy Jack Square, their dim lighting makes for an intimate setting, and the all-vinyl DJ’s give you great music you don’t have to shout over. But the number one thing that makes a great cocktail lounge is great cocktails. The Diamond serves up both classics and their own creations in a constantly changing menu. The Peach Infused Courvoisier (brandy) is an experience in and of itself, and the Japanese Whiskey Old Fashioned is a unique twist on a time-honoured tradition.
Pro tip: Most happy hours stop at 6 but The Diamond’s happy hour goes from 5:30-7:30 pm! Head here after work for deals on their featured cocktails.
6 Powell St
The Irish Heather
GASTROPUB | You might blink and miss the Irish Heather, but for those who fancy a good dram of whisky, you’ll want to keep your eyes peeled. This narrow Irish pub gets lively as the sun sets and spills into a twinkle-lit backyard patio (and bonus secret bar) on summer nights.
210 Carrall St
MUSIC | Revel Room brings southern hospitality to Gastown. Choose from classic southern dishes like Lousiana Gumbo (Classic or Vegan), or do the southern platter and have a feast! They feature music six nights a week (all nights except Monday) and on Thursday, they have duelling pianos.
Pro tip: From 4-6pm is Sour Hour where you can get $7 whiskey sours and live piano music! Get your boogie on early and still have time for Netflix.
238 Abbott St
Nelson The Seagull
BAKERY | As soon as you step into Nelson The Seagull, you’ll feel that this place has a special soul. The open bakery in the back, white brick walls and original mosaic tiling, gives an authentic feel that embodies Gastown. This is a great place to grab a coffee and get some work done, but don’t forget to take a break and order their bread and butter! It will show you how a sourdough loaf should be. If you want more than a snack, go with the picnic board – A stack of sourdough bread served with mango chutney, hummus, and a borderline addicting house-made pesto.
Photo: When They Find Us
Pro tip: Another item to order is their soup! Freshly roasted veggies served with sourdough and butter – yum 🙂
315 Carrell St
FRENCH | If you’re not in France and you wish you were, sit on the patio at Jules Bistro. It’s covered in vines and offers a quaint ambience, affordable price, and authentic French cuisine. The French Onion Soup is exactly as zesty and savoury as you’d hope and when you’re really splurging, the Mussels and Fries are there for you.
216 Abbott St
BARBEQUE | Competition is picking up in Vancouver’s barbeque scene, but Peckinpah has “been putting south in your mouth” (their words, not ours) since the beginning. They’ve got the classic meats and southern sides as well as beer, bourbon and whisky tasting flights. If you can get a seat on their tiny patio in the summer, it’s prime real estate for people-watching!
2 Water St
Salt Tasting Room
WINE | Just look for the waving black flag in Blood Alley (named in homage to Vancouver’s first butchery). Salt is the perfect date night location. They offer an intimate and secluded vibe and a diverse selection of wines. Pair this with their artisan cheese and cured meat platters, and you are all set. Salt gives you the option to either make your own platter from their selection of cheeses, meats, and condiments or let the experts do it for you.
Pro tip: The three-course set menu is money well spent. They give you tapas, a platter, and dessert. Chocolate lovers will not regret choosing the dark chocolate mousse.
45 Blood Alley Sq
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Gastown Food Tours depart daily at 3:00 pm!